Time Out says
James Toback’s tight, original script first became a movie in 1974, when it benefitted from the fully believable gambling addiction of high-flying star James Caan. Four decades later, it feels tired, egocentric and a touch false, not just because we’re supposed to accept Mark Wahlberg as Jim, an English-lit professor with a secret life. His cynical monologues to his students – at one point, delivered from a defeated position lying on his desk – bear little resemblance to the modern-day classroom. And this version’s shadowy Las Vegas underworld and convenient adoring female coed (Brie Larson, who deserves better) play like clichés.
Still, there’s a nauseating appeal to watching a player lose fat stacks of chips – the winning is fun too. Toback’s self-negating concept of Jim (loosely autobiographical) is better articulated by the fine actors around Wahlberg, especially Jessica Lange as his wealthy, disgusted mother and John Goodman as a furious loan shark. Both see Jim as a little boy in a big pool; audiences who love Rounders or Owning Mahowny will have even less patience.
Cast and crew